A heel spur occurs when calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone, a process that usually occurs over a period of many months. Heel spurs are often caused by strains on foot muscles
and ligaments, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. Heel spurs are especially common among athletes whose activities include large amounts
of running and jumping. Heel spurs often cause no symptoms but can be associated with intermittent pain, especially while walking, jogging, or running. Sharp pain in the heel can also be experienced
when standing after sitting for a long period of time. Heel spurs can be a result of plantar fasciitis.
Fctors that increase the risk of developing heel spurs include a high body mass index (BMI), regular vigorous activity, and intensive training routines or sports. Factors such as these are believed
to increase the incidence of repetitive stress injuries that are associated with the formation of heel spurs. When a heel spur forms, extremely sharp pain along with the feeling that a part of the
heel is trying to burst through the skin usually occurs. If left untreated, an individual may eventually begin to struggle to perform simple activities such as walking.
An individual with the lower legs turning inward, a condition called genu valgus or "knock knees," can have a tendency toward excessive pronation. This can lead to a fallen arch and problems with the
plantar fascia and heel spurs. Women tend to suffer from this condition more than men. Heel spurs can also result from an abnormally high arch. Other factors leading to heel spurs include a sudden
increase in daily activities, an increase in weight, or a thinner cushion on the bottom of the heel due to old age. A significant increase in training intensity or duration may cause inflammation of
the plantar fascia. High-heeled shoes, improperly fitted shoes, and shoes that are too flexible in the middle of the arch or bend before the toe joints will cause problems with the plantar fascia and
possibly lead to heel spurs.
Because the diagnosis of heel spurs can be confused with tarsal tunnel syndrome (as described earlier), most surgeons advocate performing a tarsal tunnel release (or at least a partial tarsal tunnel
release) along with the plantar fascia release. This surgery is about 80percent successful in relieving pain in the small group of patients who do not improve with conservative treatments.
Non Surgical Treatment
Ice compresses, stretching exercises, night splint for traction of the leg muscles to stretch the muscle in the back of the leg, and massage of the back of the leg, along with padding and heel
cushions are also things that you can do at home. The number one recommendation for relief of heel pain is wearing good shoe gear. Good shoe gear usually consists of a sturdy, solid shoe. Heel pain
is not relieved by a soft, ill supported shoe. Shoes such as Nike, K-Swiss, and Avia are the best shoes for this condition. Custom orthotics are highly recommended. Physical therapy is another way
physicians treat this condition. Ice packs, muscle stimulation, ultra sound, paraffin baths, and the new Plantar Fascitis Night Splint are also helpful. If all these conservative measures fail to
relieve the pain, then surgery is indicated. The newer minimal incision surgeries such as the Endoscopic plantar fasciotomy surgery is extremely beneficial for this condition, and for earlier
ambulation, the use of the newer Cast Walking Boot is recommended.
Surgery involves releasing a part of the plantar fascia from its insertion in the heel bone, as well as removing the spur. Many times during the procedure, pinched nerves (neuromas), adding to the
pain, are found and removed. Often, an inflamed sac of fluid call an accessory or adventitious bursa is found under the heel spur, and it is removed as well. Postoperative recovery is usually a
slipper cast and minimal weight bearing for a period of 3-4 weeks. On some occasions, a removable short-leg walking boot is used or a below knee cast applied.
A variety of steps can be taken to avoid heel pain and accompanying afflictions. Wear shoes that fit well-front, back, and sides-and have shock-absorbent soles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel
counters. Wear the proper shoes for each activity. Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles. Prepare properly before exercising. Warm up and do stretching exercises before and after
running. Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities. Don't underestimate your body's need for rest and good nutrition. If obese, lose weight.